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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77577 Find in a Library
Title: Approach to Drug Problems in Australia - Paranoia or Policy?
Journal: Australian Crime Prevention Council Forum  Volume:4  Issue:1  Dated:(1981)  Pages:51,53-56
Author(s): J Willis
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This article reviews the emergence of the drug problem in Australia in the 1960's and discusses the legislative response to the problem through criminal law measures and the effects of this policy on public opinion.
Abstract: Visits of marijuana-using American soldiers during the Vietnam War and increased operations of Southeast Asian heroin syndicates are cited as contributing factors to the emergence of the drug problem in Australia. As signatory to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Australia subscribed to the classification of cannabis and heroin in the same schedule, thereby leaving the impression that the two substances are of equal danger to users. The Commonwealth passed the Narcotic Drugs Act in 1967 and amended its Customs Act; the first regulated drug manufacture, the second created offenses of drug importation, for which penalities have subsequently been increased several times in an effort to deter traffickers. There has been no attempt to enact a single body of legislation dealing with all aspects of the drug problem, including controls over the prescription and dispensing of legally available habit-forming drugs, the development of treatment programs, and the dissemination of accurate information on drugs and drug use. The legislative response of the States has likewise been of an ad hoc character with emphasis on criminal law. This criminal law response has confirmed the citizenry's belief in the dangerousness of drugs and hence contributed to the general anxiety and fear about the drug problem. The judiciary has responded to community concern and generally interpreted legislation so as to secure convictions, while the media have heightened public anxiety by sensationalizing drug-related incidents. The paper concludes that criminal law has not succeeded in removing, or even limiting, illicit drug use; a policy is urged that would limit the abuse of all harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Increased self-awareness in the community of society's dependence on drugs would lessen the fear and antagonism currently expressed towards illicit drug users and gradually enable the development of more progressive, liberal policies.
Index Term(s): Australia; Controlled Substances; Drug abuse; Drug law offenses; Drug regulation; Federal drug laws; International agreements; Organized crime; Policy analysis
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